The Tennessee Titans (8-7) are one win away from posting back to back winning seasons, something they haven’t done in a decade.
The Titans are one win away from their first playoff berth in nearly a decade, and one loss away from their biggest collapse since moving to Nashville.
With so much on the line, and so many questions surrounding the team’s legitimacy as a true playoff contender, it’s only fitting that the team standing in their way is none other than the rival Jacksonville Jaguars.
The quest for AFC South supremacy became a two-team race the moment that Houston lost their quarterback, Deshaun Watson, for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
And for most of the season the teams were neck and neck.
Tennessee scored a huge statement win over the Jags, in Jacksonville, in week 2 with a resounding 37-16 thumping of their arch nemesis. But since then both teams went in opposite directions.
The Titans have struggled to score points since that game, even against defenses with talent far inferior to Jacksonville’s number one overall unit.
Their dump truck, win ugly style of play failed to attract supporters from the local and national media, even in the midst of winning six of seven games earlier in the season.
Tennessee was 8-4 at one point, but not in the court of public opinion. The offensive line, run game, and quarterback play of Marcus Mariota regressed from the potency they displayed a year ago.
The Titans’ current three-game slide gave their season-long naysayers all the ammunition they needed to dismiss this team as just another pretender with a hot start to the season.
Meanwhile, the Jags found their stride on offense since that week 2 meeting behind the resurgence of quarterback Blake Bortles, and as a result, Jacksonville has looked and played like a playoff contender all season long.
Their defense has been dominant, and their offense is playing complimentary football with a steady dose of an effective run game mixed with timely big plays in the passing game from Bortles.
While the Titans are playing their worst football at the worst time, a win over Jacksonville Sunday could not only change their year-long perception, but it could also raise questions as to who is the real king of the AFC South.
A win over Jacksonville would give Tennessee a 5-1 record in the division, their best record since 2002. The loss would drop the Jags to 4-2, and the Titans would own the season sweep of their annual series.
Outside of the division both teams were pretty much equal. The Titans and Jaguars beat the Seahawks, Colts, Texans, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens.
They both lost to the Cardinals, Rams, and 49ers.
The tipping point would be division record and head to head matchups, and the Titans would come out on top in both categories.
Yes, the playoffs are the ultimate goal for Tennessee, but a win over the Giants or Jets to get in would do little to quiet the growing sentiment of a disappointing season.
A win over the Jaguars to get in is the equivalent of a play-in game in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the next round after defeating another worthy opponent.
The Titans are looking to kill two birds with one stone on Sunday.